Yesterday I saw the play “Mother of the Maid”. It was presented at my local theatre, and has also played in NYC with Glenn Close playing the mother of Joan of Arc. Sherman Fracher who played her here was excellent. Written by Jane Anderson, the play explores what it is to be the mother of a saint. What is it like when your teenager comes to you and says she has visions and is being commanded by Saint Catherine to put on armor, carry a sword, and lead an army?
How does it feel to see your daughter put on pants at a time when that was forbidden? I was surprised to learn that though Joan of Arc was tried by the Catholic Church for heresy, the charge she was convicted of that led to her burning was violating the Biblical commandment of Deuteronomy 22.5, which says, “the woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man.”
The power of the play is in showing what it is for parents to lose control of their daughter and yet stand by her through the unimaginable. Her parents come across as saints.
Her mother Isabelle Arc walks 300 miles through mud and storms to see and support her daughter who has gone to court. After her daughter is burned at the stake, she goes to Rome to talk to the Pope to ensure her daughter is acquitted of her supposed crimes and eventually canonized as a saint. This is a woman who couldn’t read or write but knew right and wrong, and love, true love.
At the end, the mother speaks of the beauty of what her daughter felt and touched on, and that is the beauty that is right here, in the flowers, soil, fellow creatures, and air. It comes around to Mother Nature, and the soul we share.